Watch this epic hunk of wooden machinery play a dance tune with 2,000 marbles


Swedish Musician Martin Molin has been working on something strange and wonderful for some time, and now the artist has finally unveiled his new creation in a brilliant new video. A massive handmade music box, the wooden device uses 2,000 marbles to create a complex piece of analog dance music — complete with breakdown.

Featuring a kick drum, snare, vibraphone, and electric bass, the Wintergatan Marble Machine is powered by hand crank, and requires human interaction to trigger its various musical possibilities. The video shows Molin moving around multiple wooden levers, turning a wagon wheel sized cog with a crank, and directing the entire process like a musical mad scientist.

Along with scores of marbles and hand-carved wooden parts, the machine employs tracks, pulleys, and funnels to move the marble power around. It’s as much a work of art as it is a means to create music.

Construction for the Marble Machine was not easy. Work began in the Fall of 2014, and took until very recently to finish, with the creator saying that the end was the hardest part. Originally, the musician was intended as a two-month project. It actually took 14, according to a recent interview with Wired.

“The closer the machine gets to be finished the harder it gets to finish it,” said its creator about its progress just before it was completed.

The difference between Molin’s marble machine and more traditional marble-powered music boxes (which actually embodies a whole DIY subculture in-and-of itself) is that Molin’s is programmable. He built in special pulleys that trigger certain parts of the instrument, rather than the whole thing playing a set series of sounds on repeat.

To craft the machine, Molin drew the dimensions of the box in 3d software, then hand-molded extra parts onto the basic shape, a process which led the ultimate layout of the box to be simultaneously odd and impressive. He also made a pretty cool making-of video, for those interested in the process.

The musician says that he intends to make more boxes in the future, but that they will likely be smaller and more streamlined so they don’t take as long and are easier to move. And he’s getting better at building these things.

“I’m learning to plan the building a little bit better,” Molin said to Wired, “Then it doesn’t have to take so much time.”

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